For the first time since 2005, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets is allowing New York wineries to produce wines with grapes grown out-of-state.
The move comes after New York suffered through one of the harshest winters in recent memory, which resulted in wide scale damage to vines and resulted in a drastic reduction of 2014’s grape yield. Some vineyards even experienced trunk damage so bad that entire plants needed to be replaced.
Pursuant to §76-a(5)(b) of the New York Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, “no licensed farm winery shall manufacture or sell any wine not produced exclusively from grapes or other fruits or agricultural products grown or produced in New York.” The law, however, provides an exception to this requirement where more than 40% of a specific grape varietal is destroyed by a natural disaster, Act of God, or continued adverse weather.
In order to be designated as a New York wine though, federal law requires that at least 75 percent of grape contents must have been grown in New York. It is still too early to know whether New York wineries will be able to meet this condition.
The grape varietals which are included in the Department of Agriculture and Market’s declaration are: Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Merlot, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lemberger, Syrah, Gamay Noir, Brianna, Frontenac, La Crescent, and Noiret.
Wineries interested in using out-of-state grapes will need to complete the Department of Agriculture’s application.